I had to pick up a bunch of these slender carrots from the store and combine them with addictively bitter fresh methi (fenugreek) leaves into this delicious stir fry. An otherwise plain-looking side dish which in reality in such a perfect balance of texture and flavors, it formed a part of our winter meals just once or twice in the season because growing up, carrots were usually consumed in preparing luscious halwa or tangy winter pickles. Or mostly mum would simply cut up raw carrots into sticks and squirted fresh lemon juice & dash of chaat masala on top for a healthy snack in between meals.
Not having it often could be the reason it is one of my favorite things to prepare during colder months.Who knows? But this sweet-spicy medley, very popular in north indian parts of India, when served with piping hot yellow dal, few cut up hard-boiled eggs and hot rotis forms a super satisfying home meal in addition to being wholesome and nourishing.
I love the robust choice winter vegetables bring with them. I could go on about my love for produce at this time of the year – fleshy turnips, sweet beetroots and leafy greens.While many people find comfort in meats and poultry at this time when its dull and grey or perhaps snowy outside if you are on the east coast, I need a hearty stock of vegetables to strive and feel energetic through the season.If you are in India, where unlike here, fresh peas make an appearance in the winter months, you could be in for a really treat if you plan to make this along with those juicy, raspberry red carrots, native to the asian subcontinent which I am still to spot here.
In this recipe, you could substitute methi leaves with any bitter greens of choice – kale or turnip, radish greens work wonderfully.To balance out the sweetness from carrots and peas, you do need a bitter element so do not skip the greens. Sometimes I add diced up sweet potatoes or white potatoes for an earthy texture, making it sweet, spicy, bitter and deliciously savory side to go along dal – rice or plain parathas(flatbreads).
Talking of fresh produce, I had a chance to visit the weekly farmers market at the San Francisco Ferry Building during our trip to bay area last week. What a beautiful, fresh and gorgeous spread of produce, meats,bread and condiments it was.We spent almost half a dat there sampling cheeses, raw honey, bread & hot pizza from the stand. Here are a few pictures for you guys.
A simply spiced carrots, peas and fresh fenugreek leaves dish with warm tones of ginger & cumin which can be served as a side or a warm winter salad.
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
- 4-5 medium-sized carrots (I used a bunch which had 6-7 small, slender carrots)
- 3/4 cup fresh or frozen peas
- 1 cup packed fresh methi leaves, picked
- 2 tbsp mustard oil (or olive oil)
- 1/4 tsp methi dana(fenugreek seeds)
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida powder)
- 2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 small roma tomato, finely chopped (yield about 2.5 tbsp)
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (or paprika, adjust to tolerance)
- 1/2″ fresh ginger shoot, finely chopped
- salt to taste
- 1/4 tsp garam masala (optional)
- 1/4 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder to taste, or use fresh lemon juice to taste at the end)
- Use any bitter robust green like kale (blanched) or radish & turnip greens in place of fenugreek.
- We like this dish more on the sweet bitter side than with tang. Even though tomatoes & amchoor balance the sweet, depending on how acidic your tomato is, just adjust the amount of lemon or amchoor. You may or might not need it at all too.
Wash and peel the carrots. Pat them dry and dice them if you have the thicker ones, I cut them up into small rounds since mine were slender. Wash the methi leaves under running stream of water and completely dry them before chopping. If you are using fresh pea, shell the pods, if using frozen, thaw them.
In a karahi or heavy skillet, heat up the mustard oil on medium until the raw smell goes away. Once hot, temper the oil with methi dana and cumin seeds. Wait till they crackle. Turn the heat to low and immediately add the chopped garlic and hing. Wait till the garlic changes color to light brown,about 8-10 seconds.Be sure that the garlic does not burn. You can even put off the stove for few minutes if you feel that the oil is already hot enough.Then add the tomatoes & turmeric.Saute for a minute or so on medium till the tomato begins to soften. Add the carrots (and potatoes/sweet potatoes if using) and cover. Let cook for 5-7 minutes on medium low heat till the carrots become tender(or about 80% cooked).Add a little splash of water if you feel that the carrots need moisture for cooking.
Open the lid add the red chill powder along with peas, ginger and chopped methi. Add salt to taste. Stir to combine everything together. Cover again and let cook for another 3-4 minutes till the methi leaves wilt down and peas are tender. I let the vegetables have a bite so I do not cook them for too long.Adjust the time of cooking accordingly.
For the last 1-2 minutes of cooking, bump up the heat to high, add amchoor, garam masala and saute the vegetables for a minute or so.We call this process “bhuno” (saute on high heat) This makes the stir fry glisten and adds a depth of flavor.